They cut an unlikely pair – the young petrol head with the magnificent mullet who looks like a surfer dude, and the lawn curator who looks as if he could be his solid whiskery uncle.
Yet Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman are as alike as two dimples on a golf ball.
Close as could be and completely alike, they’re one of the most reliable double acts in Australian sport who’ve kept each other going through the sport’s most challenging period.
Before the 149th British Open was launched at Royal St George’s on Thursday, the country’s two top-ranked players – Smith is No.28 and Leishman No.33 – both told AAP of how their friendship has blossomed during a trying time through the pandemic.
“It’s been good having such a good mate on the tour with me,” explained Leishman, after the pair had just completed a practice round at the Kent links course.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone but I think having that mateship has been good for our mental health and for our golf games. To have practice rounds together, just spend time together, it’s been really important.
“We haven’t seen our families for a year-and-a-half (back in Australia) – and that weighs on you a bit,” added Victorian Leishman, who’s based at Virginia Beach on the US Atlantic coast where he lives with his wife and three kids.
“So to have that friendship that you can carry onto the golf course, it’s pretty cool.”
On the surface they look so different, with 37-year-old Leishman a decade older than his Brisbane pal – and they’ve got different interests with the Jacksonville-based Smith enjoying tinkering around as mechanic with his classic cars while ‘Leish’ lovingly tends to his lawn.
Yet from the moment they first met 11 years ago, they seemed to click and realised they were peas in a pod, both pretty laid-back straight-shooting characters.
“We’ve known each other since I met him when I was at a practice ground with him at the Australian Open when he was about 16,” says Leishman.
“He’s awesome, he’s funny. We’ve very similar, from similar backgrounds, both from working-class families. We just gel.”
Asked to join this mutual appreciation society, Smith’s happy to do so, explaining: “We’re a pretty good team. He’s one of my best mates and we’ve got the same kind of personalities, we both grew up outside the city, very relaxed, and we’ve got the same sense of humour.”
They certainly are a pretty good team. In April, they clicked together on the TPC Louisiana course on Anzac Day to win the Zurich Classic pairs event and after the Open, they’re off to the Olympic Games in Tokyo where they’ll be among the favourites to strike gold.
Typically, each of them say they would be just as excited if the other came home with the big prize.
“Just really excited about the Olympics,” enthused Smith. “Not only to be representing Australia in Tokyo, but also because I have one of my best mates as my teammate.
“Now that’s pretty cool.”